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Joel Stern - Unplugged / Jodphur




Joel Stern
unplugged/jodphur
contact and headphone mics. computer. inside computer. cutlery and pans. stone sampling. feedback. ghat. rugmaking. plug. radio. rusty gate. cables. bows. bells.paper. raagini. romauld played violin (5)
recorded 2003
TwoThousandAnd

last copies available for purchase through TwoThousandAnd

Listening to unplugged/jodphur is like exploring a derelict building. Inside one room you can hear water running. You find a light switch and press it-sparks burst from nowhere as the ignition of distant machinery begins to hum all around. The walls are peeling. Behind some broken tiles there's a tin box holding old coins and photographs.
Stern treats these artifacts to reveal a place of submerged activity, an ambiguous space filled with static objects bearing the faint trace of human gesture. Documentation and manipulation interact and overlap in an environment that's charged with an awareness seldom heard by our ears.
Michael Rodgers - 2+++

“The music ebbs and rises throughout the disc with great attention paid to sonic detail...one will sometimes hear, for example, amorphous throbs paired with splintering slivers of high-pitched tones forming a delightfully ambivalent and complex texture. Recommended, especially for those interested in the ongoing history and evolution of musique concrete”
Brian Olewnick (bagatellen)

Australian Joel Stern examines the sound of a certain place in a precise, almost ghostly manner. While listening to Unplugged/Jodphur, it feels like following right behind Stern from room to room with the difference that he can actually see what's in front of him. There are moments of complete silence so as to illustrate when we approach something new and different, and it's not without rushing excitement that you take a deep breath just to wait and see where he'll go next. Headphones and darkness will do these creepy sound collages a great service, but this will do just fine in daylight too. As a matter of fact that is possibly the way to go, because this one gives me a sense of unease from the very first note to the last no matter time of the day. In a similar way as Omit and Raeo, Stern makes music that is so emotionally exhausting that it can be hard to listen to in big doses. But once you get used to that lump on your chest it's a very rewarding listen. Nicely done.
Mats Gustaffasun - broken face

AMG Rating * * * *
AMG REVIEW: Australian artist Joel Stern's Unplugged/Jodphur (sic) is an enticing collage in nine parts that blurs the line between taped “natural" sounds and electronic processing. From the onset, it's richly cinematic, with a buffeting wind sharing space with muffled metallic clangs and static interruptions. The music ebbs and rises throughout the disc with great attention paid to sonic detail and the combination of pillowy and harsh sounds. One will sometimes hear, for example, amorphous throbs paired with splintering slivers of high-pitched tones forming a delightfully ambivalent and complex texture. Stern also periodically returns to more purely concrete territories which, for the listener, is something like waking from a dream; one suddenly is aware of ambient sounds like birds and faraway voices and the effect is startling. The listener is pulled back and forth between these poles, sometimes gently, other times with a certain amount of force, even harshness. All told, this makes for a bracing, never less than fascinating journey and stands Unplugged/Jodphur alongside the work of artists like Lionel Marchetti, which is strong company indeed. Recommended, especially for those interested in the ongoing history and evolution of musique concrete.
Brian Olewnick - allmusic

Joel Stern hails from Australia and has been actively involved in the UK/London improv scene for some time now. Here in solo mood, he limits himself to the use of concrete sound and electronics. He plays around with found objects, such as cutlery, pans, inside computer, feedback, ghat and rugmaking. In nine relatively short pieces he shows a shared interest with Roel Meelkop and Bernard Gunter and the like, but because he limits himself to a minimal piece of a few minutes, events happen quicker and are not spread out over the entire length of a disc. He explores his soundmaterial along the lines of audibility and inaudibility, like so many others do in this field, but it's quite enjoyable material.
(FdW) - vital weekly

Joel Stern appeared in 2002_07 and TwoThousandAnd was last seen in 2002_13. This album, part of the subscription series, is described as 'like exploring a derelict building'. And to convey that feeling the cover is ripped card held together with thick gaffer tape with a ripped and weathered old photo on the front: the info sheet has the same photo, suggesting that while it looks like an old B&W picture, it is a reproduction and each copy has been individually treated. Anyway, the cover explores the found metaphor of the music.
Composed with contact mikes, computer, cutlery and pans, radio, cables, bows, paper and more, each track seems to explore a microworld of sound, some components of which bleed from one room to another. Close crackling and metal twangs, a harsher crackle over and a stepping scrape builds in the first track, drops to little dits and a scrabble, rebuilds, potters and twang, resonant metal. We've no idea where we are, but there is a lot of interesting things to hear. A buzzing scrape, swoosh and noisey buzzburr in the brief second part before a burry zing tap and tingling build in the metallic third section. A percussive ringing, drops to poppery chewing with regrowing pinging, then a popping ringing and water sound, a rubbed glass tone, dropping sounds and pulses.
Light chittery dits, steps and distant noises (children, birds) deep resonances and tapping in the fourth room. Then we shift into an open space, a hollow empty resonance with a metallic chopping squeals scrapey horns in a harshness that we hear steps moving away from. In six a slow thump, thump, whirly squiggling machines, thump machines rumble click whirr. A twangy scrape, rising buzz and soft putter in the seventh section is replaced by shaking metal chimes of eight, more twanged metal and background voices. A soft burring, and as the chimes slow and soften a fuzzy tone takes over. The final track begins with a deep electrical discharge humm-rumble, broken up and with crackles in, that develop a rhythm; that drops to a lower level with some voices in then gains momentum as a percussive component gains a dramatic climax, drops to a crackle then a cable-hum; thence -boom- back with an active vengeance full with more samples deep in there before dropping for the last half minute to strange distant distorted voice loops.
Only 30 minutes, but there is a heap of activity and subtlety of events to listen into in this sound collage - something for close listening, and well worth it.
Jeremy Ampersand - ampersand etc


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